Economic Implications of Dental Health Care

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There is no doubt that ongoing dental care and the treatment of dental emergencies can be very expensive. While Canadians in every province and territory enjoy Provincial Health Care, dental care is not covered under these plans.

It is widely accepted that good oral health is an important component of one’s overall health maintenance. Fortunately, there is an array of private dental insurance options available to address this gap in coverage. Even with the large number of choices available there is still a large number of Canadians (32%) who do not have coverage for dental care. Overall health implications aside, the economic ramifications of emergency dental health care are far-reaching.

Economic Impact

When it comes to dental health care, an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure. Regular trips to the dentist can stave off the need for most emergency dental visits. And those unexpected trips to the dentist can have a large financial impact on the whole country.

One sick day used to visit the dentist to investigate a toothache probably doesn’t seem like an event that contributes to a much larger problem. However, it is estimated that 4.15 million workdays are lost each year in Canada because of emergency trips to the dentist or sick days brought on by problems with one’s teeth1. When that’s multiplied by the average hourly wage in Canada ($23.23)2, it adds up to nearly a billion dollars in lost productivity every year.

Causes of Emergency Dental Office Visits

Short of a traumatic injury to the mouth that damages the teeth or jaw, most emergency dental office visits are the result of conditions in the mouth that are often preventable. Whether it’s because of pain that cannot (or can no longer) be controlled with over-the-counter medications; severe swelling in or around the mouth; or, unexplained oral bleeding, dental emergencies can be unnerving. The added worry of lost income due to the time taken off work to seek treatment is another layer of stress.

More frustratingly, many of these conditions are only emergencies because the patient was unable to keep up with regularly scheduled dental visits because of cost considerations. This proves to be false economy when the cost of emergency treatment nearly always ends up being much higher than the routine maintenance that could have prevented it.

Savings with Dental Insurance

Untreated dental conditions can have a negative effect on overall health and quality of life. Regular trips to the dentist are the key to help avoid the economic implications of unexpected dental care. Ensuring adequate dental insurance coverage can minimize the impact of routine dental maintenance, and mitigate reduce the costs of dental emergencies, should they arise.

Dental insurance coverage options are available at many levels to make sure your family has the type of coverage at the right price.

1. Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS)

2. Canada Average Hourly Wages


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